When asked about the number of Lenin statues, Ministry of Culture officials just shrug shoulders. How do we know? The only thing that can be counted exactly is the number of monuments included in the list of historical and cultural heritage. The Ministry of Culture believes only the finest specimen deserve this.
"We do not have the purpose to give all objects created in the last 40 years, the status of historical and cultural value. This status is given to the most valuable objects," say officials in the Office for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Heritage.
Therefore, the status of "untouchables" in Belarus has been only given to nine monuments of Vladimir Ilyich: the ones in Minsk Independence Square, Pinsk, Brest, Vitsebsk, Homel, Mahiliou, Salihorsk and the monument in Baranavichy. All others, and their are about 400 of them in Belarus,are not valuable and are taken care of by the local authorities and administration of enterprises.
Moscow culturologist Dmitri Kudinov who collects information about Lenin monuments around the world says that in Belarus there is a special relationship to the legacy of Lenin. There is no such thing in Russia, Kazakhstan or Moldova.
"Probably, Belarus is the only republic of the former Soviet Union, where Lenin monuments were not demolished in bulk. Almost all the monuments in the district and regional centers are preserved. Standing in the centers of cities, preserved and never moved," says Dmitry.
Kudinov collection has more than eight thousands photos of a wide variety of Ilyich monuments. Cultural scientist says he started collecting photos of monuments not through some political beliefs. But rather through interest in local history. Over time it turned into a fairly large project. Kudinov's site has statistics about Lenin statues in the former USSR as well as abroad. The expert says that even in Moldova, where communists were in power for a long time, after the collapse of the USSR Lenin monuments were removed from central squares.
"The monuments nevers really remained there. Perhaps, the monuments were demolished, maybe transferred to the park. Not like in Ukraine or in the early 1990s, when the monuments were torn down with rope. Now in Moldova they are quietly taken away. Kazakhstan also does it with statues of Lenin."
In Russia, too, Lenin's monuments are taken out of central squares and streets. Although it has not yet happened in the province. Our neighbors to the east have about 6,000 statues of Lenin remaining (in the early 1990s there were 8,000). Ukraine is still in second place, where, after the collapse of the USSR, there were 5,500 monuments and 1,800 of them are preserved today. Third place goes to Belarus - we have saved 400 out of the 600 monuments. 300 Lenins remain in Kazakhstan, 200 - in the former Caucasus and Central Asian republics. 60 - in Moldova, and 25 in countries abroad. But in all the Baltic countries Lenin was dismantled almost immediately after independence was declared. Now you can olny see the monument to the head of the world proletariat in a special museum in Druskininkai.
Moscow is firmly in the first place among the cities that have Lenin statues - there are 101 of them there. Saint-Petersburg is in second place with 74 monuments, and the third place, at least at the beginning of the year, was held by Kharkov with 28 statues. But it seems like it's not for long. In Belarus, the majority of preserved monuments to Lenin are in Minsk - 16. But in early 1990s Babruisk had the majority of those with 22 monuments. Only 9 pieces managed to stay there until October 2014.
"Generally, now people are not very eager to keep the statues. It's like saying, let's keep the monument, because Lenin is a significant figure. It is just there. Most of the people believe that these monuments should be left alone. But if there is a strong force which will think that it is necessary to take them down -- they will be taken down. As they are currrently doing in Ukraine. There people think that the demolition of monuments will change something for the better. In this case you need to take them down," believes Dmitry Kudinov.
Meanwhile Lenin statues are mostly not disturbed. Especially in Belarus. At least half of the monument to Vladimir Ilyich in post-Soviet space is showing him standing. There are only 225 of monuments where he is "sitting". The rest are the busts of Lenin and the images of him waist-high. It is also interesting that most sculptors saw Lenin with a put-out (or outstretched, depending on your views) hand. Sometimes he is portrayed with a cap or in company with other famous figures of his time. Lenin is the least likely to be found wearing a hat. Only 18 monuments of this kind are registered in the world.